Uma Gowrishankar Wins the 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge!

It’s my pleasure to announce that Uma Gowrishankar has won the 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge with her manuscript Inhale. Uma beat out a field of 120+ manuscripts.

I enjoyed every poem in Uma’s 13-poem collection, but here are a few of my faves:

Blow That Stardust

It has been raining stars all night, silver dust
like crust of bread falling from the table.
Shooting stars bring luck if there’s one at a time,
but when there is such a profuse shower
with hundreds of them descending on my roof
I appear like a ghost with a silver halo.

Oh for a full moon night with a starless sky.

Catch each one of them: use glass bowls with water,
hear the celestial visitors hiss angrily, sigh as they choke.
Don’t let them scar, char your roof; blow the carbon dusts,
the soot that settles on your bougainvillea flowers
before they smother the magentaness that the seeds carry.
Persuade jasmines take the stars into their scented bosom,
caterpillars spin the luminescent jewel into their cocoon
to birth silver butterflies that light up a moonless night. But now,

for a full moon night with a starless sky.

That magical night I collected all stars but one,
the faintest one that I made my wish on,
sent prayers to the blur of energy dissipating in space.
Vacuum of emptiness sucked me to the quiet centre
where the wind dropped, earth stopped its throb,
heart beat slowed and the blood in the veins stilled

on that full moon light with a starless sky.

Tell Me Why I Want to Touch You

From the flat above music, strain of romance flows.
The insect walks to the edge of the window,
lands in the abyss of darkness, exiled from my vision.
Like the flash of tiger’s tail headlights of cars
hang from the corner of the wall. He comes in,
neck creased between beads of moisture.
I touch the coiled warmth of summer trapped in there.


A fragile case of muscles and nerves laid on bed of mucus;
I peer through the skin, watch the ripples as food breaks,
air sacs settle in little nooks. I reach for them,
the little drops of pearl, play them in my hands,
hand it over to you: globules of breath that you inhale.

No One Wants to Remember Certain Things

The spider crawls on the damp wall
after trapezing silk thread of memory,
nightmare zipped inside the pillow
bellows like a pregnant woman,
skin of the womb of grief drawn thin
as pain pushes the wall to be birthed.
The night presses at the window,
pours into the corners of the room and
lies thick like tar that I cannot peel away.


Yesterday, when I friended Uma on Facebook, I realized she’s our first challenge winner from India. I contacted her yesterday to let her know she’d won, and I asked her to share a little about her November PAD Chapbook Challenge experience.

Here is what Uma had to share:

I spent a considerable amount of time staring at your e-mail before it sank in. Thank
you so much for selecting my poems as the winner of 2010 November PAD Chapbook

This means a lot to me because I wrote these poems through
the month when my 90-year-old father-in-law suffering from the Parkinson’s
Disease was slipping away from us. He passed away on 29th November and the last
two days  of the month I couldn’t bring myself to write.

Many of the
poems I wrote for the PAD Chapbook Challenge germinated in the hours that I
tended my father-in-law as he battled for breath the last month of his life. The
poems obsessively hover around the mortality of human flesh, transitoriness of
beauty and human relationships.  

I normally don’t rework majorly on
what I write. I might tighten the poem, cuss myself for a flamboyant image. When
I come back to rework/edit my poem, I come as a  person different from the one
who wrote it. With these poems that carry so much the moments I lived through, I
hardly reworked. I read them and they carried memories of the slant of the sun I
followed day after day as I sat with my husband’s father holding his hands.


Please join me in congratulating Uma for writing a great collection in a difficult time!

Please also join me in congratulating the other seven finalists, who are listed here (in random order):

  • Unfastening the Rust Belt, by Dan Nowak
  • Lost and Found: The Highways That Brought Me Home, by Larry Lawrence
  • I Can See My House From Here, by Constance Brewer
  • Endings, by Marissa Coon Rose
  • Worth a Thousand Words, by Walt Wojtanik
  • Around the Sun Without a Sail, by Richard Fenwick
  • Chapbook, by Michelle McEwen

Also, while we’re at it, please join me in congratulating everyone who participated in the November PAD Chapbook Challenge, especially the 120+ who submitted chapbook manuscripts. That is an achievement in and of itself.


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


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Find hundreds of publishing opportunities for your poetry in the 2011 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer. In addition to several articles on the craft and business of poeming, the 2011 Poet’s Market contains listings for poetry publishers, poetry publications, poetry contests, and more.

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41 thoughts on “Uma Gowrishankar Wins the 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge!

  1. ideurmyer

    Congratulations Uma for excellent poetry amid tears. Kudos to the seven finalists!! I know this is repititious, but we have some great poets on this blog and it is a learning experience just to read this blog. Thank you Robert and Tammy for coaching us and encouraging us to keep on writing.


  2. Karen Legg

    Uma, these works are ethereal and timeless. Thank you writing them. I look forward to buying your chapbook, and soon.
    Everyone, congratulations! Wasn’t it fun to write those poems, and share them? I just can’t wait for April.
    Robert and Tammy, thanks for running the best poetry blog around.

  3. Dennis Wright

    I Believe

    I believe I was born because someone said it’s so.
    Then someone wrote it down on this piece of paper.
    They said it was so, said it was so, so long ago.
    It says it right here, on official looking paper.

    I am ink, therefore I am!

  4. Dennis Wright

    Congrats to Uma! Your words show you longing, in awe, and in fear. We may well know who you are: like the rest of the world but with a richer voice.

  5. Yoly

    Uma, you have my admiration for writing so beautifully in such a difficult period of your life. Bravo to you!
    Congratulations to the seven finalist.
    Everyone should feel good about their participation. It isn’t easy.
    Thank you, Robert and Tammy for your dedication.

  6. Colette D

    Congrats, Uma! And I’m appreciative of Robert’s inclusion of your explanatory email. What a dark place to write from, yet the best place from which to show the transcendent power of writing. I’m sorry for your loss and for the suffering of your father-in-law. I must personally applaud you, since I had a death in my family in October and couldn’t write a thing in November because of it. So this accomplishment says a lot about you, and congratulations again!!!

    Congrats to Walt! And cheers to all the finalists and to all those who participated. I’m with Karen: this is an awesome place to call poetic home!


  7. de jackson

    Congratulations, Uma. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss, but what beautiful work came from that pain. Congratulations to the finalists, all who submitted, and all who kept up with a poem a day. Thank you, Robert, for continuing to promote the lost art of poetry.

  8. Amy Barlow Liberatore

    Uma, congratulations. I cannot imagine how you did this work during the period preceding your father’s death… and yet, I wonder whether your heart was open just a bit more, as your father’s soul was searching for that door to release from this earth?

    It may seem bittersweet to have won this after all you have lost, but I believe your father would be so proud of you. Channeling your feelings into beauty: Isn’t that what we’re all about?

    Peace, Amy

  9. Sara McNulty

    Congratulations, Uma! Your work is breathtaking. I am sorry for the pain you endured to pull these poems out of yourself. My congratulations to the other winners and participants as well.

  10. PSC in CT

    Congrats Uma, and to the finalists, and to everyone who completed the challenge! Well done! Thanks for the prompts & inspiration, Robert. And… April’s coming! 🙂

  11. Marissa Coon Rose

    Thank you for including me as a finalist! It is an honor.

    And Uma, what great inspiration. I am sorry that it had to come from such a difficult place, but I think you’ve managed to turn it into something positive, which is an accomplishment.

  12. Nancy Posey

    Congratulations, Uma! I hope you have as much fun with winning as I did. You’ll be amazed how many people you’ll hear from. My chapbook from last year has just been published, so I’m enjoying the anniversary of last year’s Groundhog Day. Enjoy and celebrate.

  13. Janet Rice Carnahan

    Way to go, Uma! Way to rise above it all and shine! Congratulations to all the finalists! What a literal achievement! Thank you, Robert and Tammy, for the fine, fine work and effort to make it all happen. Onward and Up Word to us all! <3

  14. Walt Wojtanik

    Add my congratulations on your outstanding collection Uma. Your work stands out and this honor only confirms that fact.

    Thank you Robert for my inclusion in the top honors. It has made for a fantastic poetic year for me and I’ll add that to the Laureate for the April PAD in my list of crowning achievements.

    Kudos to all the other finalists for upping the ante and raising the level of excellence.

    And to the rest of the contributors, your work is no less stellar. I enjoy you all and consider myself honored to be included in your number.

    Write on!

  15. Karen H. Phillips

    Uma, after reading your poems, I see you clearly as the winner. Beautiful work inspired by pain and grief. Your father-in-law was blessed to have you.

    Thanks to all who participated and shared your November efforts with us, and congratulations to the honored finalists and all who took the brave step of submitting a manuscript.

    And thank you, Robert and Tammy, for making this challenge possible.

    Feeling privileged to write alongside this group, I consider this blog my poetic home!

  16. bc

    congrats to uma – so glad something good could come out of sadness for you!

    congrats to the finalists as it’s hardest to be at the top but not the winner!

    and props to all who survived the month and completed a chapbook in spite of a non-win!

  17. Marie Elena

    Congratulations, Uma. Such difficult conditions you were writing under at the time. I’m glad your father-in-law is now at peace.

    Congrats to the finalists as well. Of course, I’m particularly pleased to see my PArtner’s incredible work included.

    Thanks much for another great opportunity, Robert. Looking forward to April!

  18. willy

    Congratulations, Uma, on a job well done, and congratulations to all on the "super seven" finalists list. Thank you, Robert, as well, for all your work and attention.


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